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Getting to know the Eagles: Safety Keelan Johnson

The Eagles made a move at safety this week.


The Eagles added some depth to their secondary on Tuesday with the promotion of safety Keelan Johnson to the active roster. While fan-favorite Emmanuel Acho was released to make room, Johnson is solid addition for the Eagles, who have shown to be weak at the safety position. With Kurt Coleman and Colt Anderson shaky from injuries and Pat Chung serving as a constant liability, Johnson could get some looks on defense in the remaining two regular season games.

At 6-foot and 209 pounds, Johnson is a long and lean safety. A Mesa High School sports star that played basketball and both sides of the ball in football, Johnson was recruited by Arizona and Arizona State, but eventually chose the latter. Johnson spent five years at ASU. He redshirted his freshman year, but joined the active roster during his second season in Tempe, while collecting 11 tackles in 12 games. In 2010, Johnson was a standout on special teams and had 22 tackles and one interception in his redshirt sophomore year.

In his third active season, Johnson played in 12 games (starting three) and continued his rise in production. As a redshirt junior, Johnson had 48 tackles, a sack and two interceptions on the season. Johnson became a main fixture of the Sun Devil defense as a senior with 88 tackles, five interceptions and 13 pass defensed. He also remained a heavy presence on special teams throughout his college career. He received an All-Pac 12 honorable mention accolade in 2012.

Johnson was among the top defensive back performers at the Combine. He was a top player at his position with both shuttle drills and the three-cone drill. Those indicate that Johnson has short area quickness and the ability to change direction at a rapid speed.

Johnson went undrafted in April. Shortly after the draft, he signed with the Miami Dolphins and was let go during final cuts in August. He signed with the Eagles practice squad on September 2nd and has been with the team since the start of the season. A 4.54 runner, Johnson has the speed to play cornerback and safety, which is the type of versatility that Chip Kelly and Billy Davis appreciate. He is likely to fill a role on special teams and perform backup duties at safety.

Here is a look at Johnson at ASU during his senior season against the Arizona Wildcats. This game is a bit of a mixed bag. He takes several poor angles on tackles, but picks off a pass and forces a fumble. As you can see, he likes to be around the ball and is a pretty violent tackler with size. He played special teams very well at ASU and will clearly be used in that role with the Eagles.

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